Independent developers Nape Games proudly presents Reknum, their take on a retro-styled platforming game. But with an ever-growing popularity, its hard to separate the great retro platformers from the not-so-great and considering the fact that I have played quite a few during my time at Bonus Stage, I would now regard myself as somewhat of a cynosure. So is it worth picking up or is it better left in the past, let’s find out!
I want to start off by stating a small preference of gameplay, which some readers may disagree with. I prefer a strong narrative-focused form of gaming, regardless of the quality of the game/graphics/whatever, I can be willing to overlook all of this, if the narrative is strong and clear. Sadly, Reknum doesn’t have a strong narrative, it is rather basic, with the entire story being told at the beginning and end of gameplay, with not much in-between. I would have preferred a little more of an explanation as to why/how our protagonist Princess Cheri was travelling to these different locations. This is not to invalidate the entire game, in any way shape or form, but merely a personal preference that prohibited me from enjoying it to my full extent.
My main gripe with the gameplay comes through the power-up possibilities. Now, to ensure that the character of Princess Cheri receives power-ups (to jump higher, run faster the usual) you must collect several pieces of gold from treasure chests located around the level. However, once you die, you lose all of these powerups, meaning if you want to get them again, then you will have to go backwards to get them.
However, with that being said, the gameplay is rather enjoyable. It’s got that retro charm to it, that so many of these new indie developers desperately try to capture. Nape Games does this so easily, that it’s practically effortless. Whilst playing Reknum, I was truly transported back to the days of Playstation 1. Whilst playing as Princess Cheri you will advance through a variety of stages, such as forest, castle, etc and you may find yourself playing through one or several stages of a certain level before moving on to the next environment. Something that does benefit the game however, is that despite there being several stages to specific areas, each stage will always feel fresh and new, with new things to do and overcome… for the first half of the game that is.
I did have some troubles during the latter half of the game, and by trouble, I mean I got really bored because it padded itself out for an unnecessarily large amount of time. So, remember some of those fun/original levels I spoke about, well imagine doing them all over again (maybe sometimes backwards) but with a retro-style Gameboy coloured filter on top of it… (I’m not joking btw). In terms of presentation, this was cool and again, gave me nostalgia vibes of stealing my older cousins Gameboy Colour to play Pokémon, but after the initial thrill and novelty wore off, I was just left thinking, why? Why was this decision made? And why was so much time devoted to it when the time could have been spent adding to the story, or at least another different level of gameplay… SOMETHING!
With that mini rant being over, I want to conclude this review with something positive. The graphics on the game are basically everything you have come to expect from this genre. The character design for Princess Cheri is quite brilliant, I think she is excellently designed, with a really eye-catching look, that differs her from some of the other protagonists of this genre. The only complaint I have about the graphics, is that the backdrop of each stage is always so hideous. Like literally, the entire stage could have been impeccably designed, but I was so focused on the hideous background. Which is really a shame, because as I have just mentioned, the rest of the level designs are actually really good.
Reknum has left me more torn than any other of the previous games I have played. There are several aspects of the game that I think are incredibly well handled, even the Gameboy colour scheme could have been a stroke of genius, had it not been pasted over already played levels. But that brings me to the ever present nagging issues I had with the game, and that was, it just sort of fizzled out and didn’t keep its own momentum. Reknum is currently retailed at £4.99 on the PS Store, and is also available for Nintendo Switch. I would argue that this is a fair price for the game, and would encourage anyone who is a fan of retro-platformers to give it a whirl and see what you think for yourself.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 5/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 5/10
Replay Value - 3/10
Reknum is currently retailed at £4.99 on the PS Store, and is also available for Nintendo Switch. I would argue that this is a fair price for the game, and would encourage anyone who is a fan of retro-platformers to give it a whirl and see what you think for yourself.